A Flash Worth Watching
We arrived in Lisbon after a 10 hour journey, directly from Rio. We originally picked Lisbon as our gateway into Europe since it was the cheapest option out of South America, and we are so happy that it worked out this way. Lisbon is a beautiful city with a lot of character and charm. The city has been through so much over the centuries. An earthquake of 9.3 magnitudes brought the city to its knees in the 1500's, leaving the city crumbled and broken. As a result, there are only a few buildings left from this time period still standing. A massive fire in 1988 burned through most of the city again, so there has been more rebuilding. Overall, Lisbon has a charming combination of buildings dating from the 6th to the 21st century, all within a couple of kilometers.
We chose to do an open bus tour which took us to many different corners of this large city. We also got to visit a neighboring town, the historical city of Belem. It was the center of Portugal's seafaring industry and many sailors were shipped out to conquer new territory for the country. It was from this port that explorers set out to discover Brazil and made the first voyage by sea to India. It would take ships years to complete these journeys, and apparently some sunk just as they were approaching Lisbon due to the sudden decrease in the depth of the water.
Our hostel in Lisbon was beautiful, located on the 5th floor of a residential building in the heart of the commercial center, with amazing view of the arc of Lisbon and the water. The center is where the presidential palace used to be before the earthquake ruined it. The royal family were not in the building that day, and we heard that the king never lived down his fear of being killed inside a building and chose to live in a tent for the rest of his life, in neighboring Belem. We also bought something called Belem cakes (pastel de Belem) while we were there, which are the most amazing tarts I've ever had. Apparently the secret recipe has been guarded for centuries.
We visited a restaurant where traditional Fado music was the main attraction. Fado is a melancholy type of music apparently not only native to Lisbon, but born in the neighborhood of Almeida. I am officially in love with the 12 string Portuguese guitar. We bought a fado CD from a famous artist at FNAC and look forward to listening to it soon, but I will be on the hunt for just the guitar being played!
Our next stop is Lagos, in the area called the Algarve, on the southern coast of Portugal. We are looking forward to the sun and sand and the views seem amazing. We will update you as soon as possible.
Love, Andrew and Yasmin